Big XII Preseason Odds*
· Texas: +200
· Oklahoma: +250
· Oklahoma State: +250
· TCU: +500
· Baylor: +1200
· Iowa State: +1200
· Texas Tech: +1200
· Kansas State: +1500
· West Virginia: +2000
· Kansas: +2500
With our second season in the Big 12 starting in just over a month, we are going to take a look at how Vegas has handicapped each schools chances of winning the conference this year. Let’s start from the bottom of the barrel and make our way up, finishing with the 4 schools that are pretty unanimously recognized as the real contenders in the conference.
Kansas: +2500—you’ve gotta give everybody a fighters chance to bring home the hardware each year…well everybody except Kansas. KU has gone (2-39) in their last 41 conference games…yes you read that correctly, (2-39) with both wins coming over Colorado. So if you’re looking for a good way to burn through some money this fall, throw some jack on the Jayhawks to be the last man standing in the Big 12, just cause you can. But then again you CAN stick your dick in a blender but just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should…next.
West Virginia: +2000—West Virginia finished with the same 4-5 conference record as the Frogs last year and showed signs of greatness, especially early on. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they lost the battery of their team (Geno Smith/Tavon Austin) along with standout WR Stedman Bailey to the draft and while they have some viable replacements and Dana Holgerson is sure to cook up a pretty potent spread attack on offense, their lack of anything that even somewhat resembles a collegiate defense (109th in the nation last year) could prove problematic, so while I put them well ahead of KU, they’re still irrelevant…and a little salt on the wound for a unit that got beat like a stepchild last year came to the WVU defense in the form of Korey Harris (sophomore DE) who was dismissed from the team last week after being arrested for the armed robbery of a residence in Morgantown (side note: the dude was wearing his team issued sweatpants with his #96 plastered on the side of them as he held the homeowner at gunpoint, I mean there’s stupid and then there’s just flat out brain dead, but then again I guess it is West Virginia…I’ll leave it at that)
Kansas State: +1500—Some credit has to be given to the Wildcats simply based on the fact that they are the defending co-champions (shared the 2012 title with Oklahoma), but like West Virginia, K-state lost their captain Colin Klein as well as 6 of their top 7 tacklers from last year. They have a strong pipeline of JUCO players and although they only return 10 starters, they have a number of upperclassmen that will be playing real minutes for the first time in their careers at K-state. They open their conference schedule with back-to-back road games against Texas and Okie St. and have 5 of their final 7 games at home so if they are able to win those first two road conference games they are certainly a contender, so at +1500 there’s some value there but going on the road and winning in Austin and Stillwater back-to-back weekends against teams with superior talent is obviously no guarantee.
Texas Tech: +1200—While I do think Texas Tech is headed in the right direction after their big offseason of bringing in Kingsbury to be the HC and in turn drawing a much strong recruiting class that usual, for now I still see them as more of a scary spoiler team than a true title contender. With sophomore QB Michael Brewer taking the reins from 2-year starter Seth Doege there will be some growing pains and the Red Raiders will be relying on their defense this year more than ever. So while the Raiders are sure to knock off at least one of the conference’s top teams this year, I think it will be a couple of years before we can really start talking about Big 12 championships out in LBK.
Iowa State: +1200—although Iowa State has had some big wins against ranked teams over the past few seasons (namely knocking off #2 Oklahoma State in 2011), and has seemingly embraced the unofficial title of the Big 12’s yearly Cinderella squad, there is one area in which the Cyclones will be lacking in 2013: talent. So because spoiler teams win big games, not conference championships, keep your money in your pocket with Iowa State.
Baylor: +1200—I’m not going to spend too much time here for one simple reason: the Big 12 scheduling committee buried Baylor’s Big 12 champion chances the day they released the conference schedules. To say the Bears’ schedule is back loaded is a gross understatement, they start off the year against the likes of Wofford, Buffalo and La-Monroe to give their fans a false sense of confidence moving into conference play because once November rolls around Baylor’s schedule looks like this: vs. Oklahoma, vs. Texas Tech, @Oklahoma State, @TCU, vs. Texas. I understand that you’re gonna have some tough stretches in any BCS conference schedule but holy shit, it almost makes me feel bad for them. But of course I don’t actually feel badly for them because, well because it’s Baylor.
Ah finally we have gotten out of the muck of the conference and have arrived at the teams that might actually win this thing.
TCU: +500—I’m going to start by quickly highlighting a few of the reasons why I, along with most others, consider the Frogs a legitimate contender this year:
· Returning 9 starter’s from our 2012 top 25 defense; including Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields
· Casey Pachall and his band of WRs (Brandon Carter, Ladarius Brown, Ja’juan Story and Cam White)
· Running backs Waymon James, B.J. Catalon, Aaron Green and Jordan Moore
· Gary Patterson
Aside from the above reasons which I’m sure most of you were already aware of, there’s a laundry list of other reasons to be excited about this season and our chances of coming out on top. Most namely, last year’s top 2 teams (OU and KSU) should be taking a step back in 2013, leaving the door wide open for the rest of the conference. A healthy amount of talent and veteran leadership on both sides of the ball should prove very important, especially in the big road conference games. GP and the rest of the TCU athletic department stepped up to the plate by scheduling LSU week 1, making a pretty clear statement that they’re not scared to play anybody and for good reason. Now it’s going to be awhile (if ever) before we get the credit, especially in the preseason, that we deserve just based on our lack of history compared to the UT’s and OU’s of the world, but a week 1 win over LSU would be a big step in proving to the nation that we deserve a seat at the big boy table. Back to the matter at hand, the Big 12. Due to the parity throughout the league this year I predict 8-1 wins the conference outright so hypothetically speaking we have room to drop 1 conference game and still be named the conference champs. Although the Big 12 is void of a dominant force this year that doesn’t mean that there aren’t high-caliber teams that we’ll need to beat. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech will all be tough, but winnable games. The middle 1/3rd of our season will be the true test and will tell the story of whether or not we make a run at the conference title. Starting on October 5th @Oklahoma the Frogs have a month long stretch that includes games in Norman and Stillwater, and home games against Kansas and UT. This is the type of stretch where you find out what you’re made of and where a team can really prove itself and climb the national rankings as all of these teams (with the exception of KU) should be ranked in the top 25. Regardless of the team they put on the field, Stillwater has never been an easy place to get a win. For those of you who have never been to a game at Boone Pickens Stadium, it’s a very hostile environment which in and of itself makes it a tough place to play, throw a team out there with the ability to move the ball like the Cowboys do and it’s sure to be a shootout (if you do make it up to Stillwater for the game and have time to hang around on Sunday, I recommend playing a round of golf at Karsten Creek Golf Club. It’s certainly the highlight of Stillwater and the home course of the OSU golf team so after we get the W go play out there in your TCU game day shirt if you’re really lookin to mix it up with the Pokes). Gaylord-Memorial Stadium has more of a DKR feel to it but is equally as daunting an environment so getting out of OK 2-0 would be an impressive feat and would send us well on our way to our first Big 12 trophy. Now as for T-Tech and UT, everybody knows the stories with those two. For those of you who have never been to Lubbock, you might want to keep it that way—there aren’t any 5-star golf courses in Lubbock coming to mind so unfortunately you’re out of luck there but if you want to feel a hell of a lot better about wherever it is you call home, go spend 72 hours in the LBK. I’ll get to the Texas game in a couple of paragraphs, but in conclusion, from the most unbiased point of view I am capable of, I really do think the Frogs have as good a shot as any to take the conference and they are my preseason pick to bring home the hardware.
Oklahoma State: +250—since I’ve already touched on a couple of the reasons why the Cowboys will be a tough opponent this year I’ll make this quick. The Pokes return 15 starters and 2 experience quarterbacks along with senior RB Jeremy Smith who found the end zone 8 times last year on just 70 carries. A number of casinos have OSU as the frontrunner and the consensus is that come November, they’ll be in the picture.
Oklahoma: +250—although the Sooners aren’t the top 5 preseason powerhouse that they have been in recent years, they are still a solid team (#17 in ESPNs preseason poll). The transition of star quarterback Landry Jones to Blake ‘Belldozer’ Bell is the main storyline going into 2013 but the Sooners are returning RBs Damien Williams and Brennan Clay so along with Bell it looks as though they’ll be able to successfully pound the ball on the ground, especially near the end zone. It’s on the other side of the ball where the Sooner’s will be vulnerable. They are taking a big step backwards as far as talent and experience so the typically balanced Sooners will need the Belldozer and Co. to consistently put up big numbers to keep pace in the offense-heavy Big 12. But even with their deficiencies on D, like OSU, the Sooners plan to be in contention late in the season.
Texas: +200—best preseason odds, highest ESPN preseason rank of any Big 12 team (#13), and a group of players destined for the NFL, on paper the ‘horns are the team to beat. But as you’ve seen over the past 3 years, there’s more that goes into successful football seasons that stockpiling 4 and 5 star recruits. If you talk to any Texas fan they will all give you what they believe is at the core of their recent failures (Mack Brown, instability at QB, injuries, etc.), the facts are that since losing Colt McCoy and the national champion ship to Alabama 4 years ago the Longhorns are 22-16 (11-15 in the Big 12), a respectable record…if you’re Iowa State. So for as long as UT continues to put teams on the field, people will pick them to win games, lots of games, but it’s up to them this year to break through, win the conference, and return to their implied spot as King of the Big 12. But I know GP has October 26th circled on the schedule and the Sooners are looking to make it 4 straight against the ‘horns, so UT will have to make it through the teeth of a Big 12 schedule just like everybody else if they want to call themselves the champ.
So while there are probably 5 or 6 teams that could realistically represent the Big 12 in a BCS bowl this year, chances are that team will be coming out of Austin, Fort Worth, or Oklahoma. But as it goes with every preseason, you can’t actually know what these teams are going to do until they put on the pads, but until August 31st all we can do is speculate…and speculate we will.